Third faculty convocation celebrates faculty accomplishments

Susanna Fravell and Rhonda Wheeler

Faculty and community members gathered in Carter Hall on Oct. 3 for the third annual Faculty Convocation to celebrate faculty accomplishments. The celebration comes as faculty have cited concern for sluggish wages and lacking morale.

The ceremony started with keynote speaker Katie Ehlman, professor of gerontology and director of the Center for Healthy Aging and Wellness.

“Although our degrees may differ, our passion and drive to develop a depth of knowledge and expertise are the same,” she said.

During her speech, she talked about how she used to have two columns: a win column and a loss column. Whatever wasn’t able to go on her CV, which is an overlook of someone’s life’s work, she counted as a loss. She reevaluated this when the losses started to outnumber the wins and her job satisfaction was compromised.

So Ehlman added a third column, moral victories. She believed that as a faculty member, the column is needed. She gave the example of having a low SET score during her first year of teaching and then her second year having a low score, but higher than the previous year. She counted this as a moral victory.

“Thank you for all of the work that you do that doesn’t make it onto your CVs,” Ehlman said. “Thank you for all of your losses and your moral victories.” 

The five professors who received awards are Ernest  Hall, Sakina Hughes, Srishti Srivastava, Crystal Steltenpohl, Daria P. Sevastianova and Mahlon Powell.

Hall, a professor of management received the Distinguished Professor Award, which recognizes significant achievements in teaching, scholarship, and service.

Hall first came to USI 1992 and began teaching management classes. He initially planned on staying at USI for four or five years but as he carried on with his teaching, something about the campus grew on him and he stayed.

“There’s something about USI and something about Evansville, it’s just, I don’t know, it’s family,” he said. 

Hall never thought he would be a teacher despite becoming an accomplished professor. The thought of standing up and talking in front of people didn’t appeal to him at all because he used to be shy. However, when Hall was earning his graduate degree, one of his professors talked him into teaching.

Hall was shocked when he received the news that he would be receiving the award. He never imagined he would be nominated for an award. 

“I never refer to my profession as a job,” he said. “I don’t have a job, I have a way of life.”

Sakina Hughes received the H. Lee Cooper Core Curriculum Teaching Award during the convocation. The award is given to an outstanding professor who works in the University Core Courses. Hughes is an associate professor of history and came to USI in 2013.  

Assistant Professor of Computer Science Srishti Srivastava received the Sydney L. and Sadelle Berger Faculty Community Service Award, which is given to a faculty member for distinguished community service to groups. Srivastava created the Girls Who Code Club, a club for computer programing for middle school girls.

The university awarded Assistant Professor of Psychology Crystal Steltenpohl the USI Foundation Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award by New Faculty.

This award is given to a new faculty member who demonstrates exceptional teaching. Steltenpohl graduated from USI with a bachelor’s in English and psychology.

Associate Professor of Economics Daria Sevastianova received the USI Foundation Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award. Sevastianova has been teaching at USI for twelve years. She teaches economics and has recently established an economics club.

Sevastianova loves teaching at the university and said that the biggest reward for her profession is student appreciation. She thinks the convocation is a unique advantage to be close with students and other faculty.

“This is the daily inspiration is to get a thank you from the students, like that always melts my heart,” Sevastianova said. “Those are the days that I drive home and I know that I have the best job in the world.”

The last award is the USI Foundation Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award by Adjunct Faculty and it was awarded to Adjunct-Liberal Arts Mahlon Powell. He was unable to attend the faculty convocation.

University president Ron Rochon ended the ceremony by thanking the faculty and staff for everything they do for the community, students and each other.

“My main message for those who didn’t attend is please make every effort to attend in the future,” he said. “It’s a way in which we provide amazing recognition to our faculty, men and women who have dedicated their lives to the classroom and our student body.”